Summary: A sermon about starting a new ministry together, and the steps that need to be taken to ensure we all start out on the right foot.
Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications.
If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord More than those who watch for the morning-Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is mercy, And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel From all his iniquities.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Those who have been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Starting Out on the Right Foot
He sits down. It is a few hours before Sunday worship. He is nervous… but it is the good kind of nervous. This is the moment that God has been preparing him for. His whole life has been leading up to this. He is anxious. Who wouldn’t be? Today would mark the end of one step of the journey, and a brand new beginning to another step. It is his first Sunday as a brand new pastor. He wants desperately to start out on the right foot. But how? Where should he start? How should he start? Where can he look to for guidance? Words of men are fine, however in a case like this one needs something more… divine. And so he folds his hands, bows his head… and prays.
It may not surprise you that I use this story of a new pastor, because that is exactly where I am at… and exactly where we are at. I have huge expectations of myself and I am sure you have expectations as well. So those same questions plague me as I look at our new beginning. Where should we start? How should we start? And… Where can we look to for guidance?
But how do we do it? How we can start our journey together out on the right foot. If we were business people, it would be a simple matter of collecting data, crunching numbers, putting everything in its place, and organizing and streamlining our work together. If we were athletes, we would train, and exercise, work, practice, and put our bodies through all sorts of punishment.
However, we are not in business together nor would I compare the work of the church to an athlete in training. No… our calling together is something more, something altogether different, and we can not find the answers for how we can live out our calling by looking to the examples of the world. So… how can we make sure we are on the right path, following the will of God, and living up to the call he has placed on us as a church?
We need to look to God and the examples set forth in scripture. Rightfully so… any new beginning in a church whether it be a new pastor coming or a new curriculum should be undertaken with a focus on God. This is the exact example set forth for us in our scripture lesson for today.
Today’s scripture is from our dear brother Paul to the church in Ephesus. The Ephesians were struggling with their “new beginnings” apart from Paul. His letter to the church detailed a blueprint for how the church should progress forward. It might not be a huge surprise to hear what Paul says on the matter.
Paul writes to the Ephesians, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love.” Paul was always concerned with the example set forth by God, and the example set for us by Jesus Christ. For him they were the ultimate, or more accurately, they were the perfect model for us to follow and for us to strive for.